Birding during Storm Jorge at Goldcliff Lagoons

The first Avocets on the lagoons I have seen this year. A sign that the breeding season will soon be upon us.

After a week being of being more or less stuck indoors during the day time, I was very eager to get out on the weekend for my weekly fix of birding. All this wet weather we have been having is driving me mad. It seems the weather always takes a turn for the worse on the weekend.

Well, I was determined to get out whatever the weather on Saturday. I am sure Goldcliff was calling me in my dreams as I woke up early and immediately listened carefully for the patter of rain outside.
I heard nothing so jumped up out of bed and looked out to see it was wet but the rain had eased.

I was soon out of the house and driving down to the reserve.

As I drive through the Gwent Levels many the fields were waterlogged and flooded. Luckily the roads were clear apart from some big puddles.

On entering the reserve it was like walking through a quagmire. Very muddy and wellies were essential. The showers were heavy but sporadic. Monks Lagoon was quiet. The wind was really in my face and cold as I peeked out from the hide. I could hear lots of "Pee Wit" calls of Lapwings but could only find one initially.

There was a flock of shelduck on Monks that were sheltering from the wind.

I trudged along to the Snipe Platform and on arrival was greeted to the sight of waves blowing across the lagoon and a big flock of wildfowl. Wigeon was the most numerous but it also contained Shovelers, Teal, Mallard, and Gadwall. There was also a Goldeneye in with them. Flossy The Glossy was roosting in the reedbed and when all the ducks got skittish when they eventually noticed me it took off and flew to the bank.

"Flossy" the Glossy Ibis


A male Marsh Harrier then swooped on over the sea wall and suddenly the whole of Priors lagoon was in panic. Ducks were flying everywhere doing major evasive action. The Marshy eventually dropped into the reeds out of sight.

Ducks panic when the Marsh Harrier turned up.


I would not see the Marsh Harrier again for about thirty minutes. By that time I had relocated to the Seawall Hide and was busy munching my breakfast. The Harrier rose out of the reeds and was mobbed all the way across the lagoon by a Carrion Crow. Both birds put on quite a show of aerobatic skill. The Marshy started to get really upset and was tumbling mid-air on its back threatening the crow with its talons. This did nothing to really deter the Crow which seemed to be enjoying itself.

An altercation between the Marsh Harrir and a Carrion Crow


A flock of Lapwings went up from Monks Lagoon and flew high into the air. I then noticed a couple of lapwings mobbing a Peregrine. The falcon flew low and landed in its usual spot on the island of Becs.

Flock of Lapwings


The Lapwings continually mobbed it and the falcon looked really ruffled and was doing its best to look aggressive.

The return of the Lapwings is a sign that the breeding seeing will soon be upon us. It's good to see them starting to establish their territories and give the Peregrine a hard time. I expect sooner rather than later the mobbing will become intolerable and the Peregrines will stop "camping" on Monks and Becs. It should be breeding season for the falcons soon and they will no doubt pair up and put in an appearance when its "dinner time".

I had just about four seasons worth of weather, high winds, rain, sleet, and sunshine whilst sat in the hide.

During a rainstorm, I noticed a group of very white looking birds and was really pleased to see that a flock of nine Avocets had landed on Priors Lagoon. They were floating around on the water and eventually settled in a group on the waters edge.

Avocets did not settle in one place for long.


I have been expecting to see them returning to the lagoons to start establishing themselves before the breeding season. I remember it had been a similar time last year. Their numbers should now start to grow as we progress through March. None of these birds were ringed or tagged.

So it's now the first of March - Happy St Davids Day readers. Things from here on should start kicking off at Goldcliff. We are all taking bets on when we will see the first migrants arriving.

Last year I saw my first Wheatear on the seawall on the twentieth of March - I really can't wait to welcome them back.




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